A Need for Collaboration
Issue   |   Tue, 02/06/2018 - 23:28

In light of the party policy, it’s clear that more needs to be done to foster open communication between students and administrators before major policies are implemented or changed. This, however, is something that should not be limited to party policy. Active, engaged and open discourse between the administration and students must be a cornerstone of how the school functions and operates. Moreover, transparency on behalf of the administration should be required even when it comes to seemingly banal alterations, such as wording or policy. When changes are made, the administrators must be in conversation with the student body about the policies that could dramatically shift our Amherst experience and the role of the college in the broader community.

Given that the school changes administrators, student demographics and values over time, it is perfectly reasonable for policy to reflect this by being in flux. However, change can and often times is disruptive — for better or for worse — and therefore the implications of these changes should be carefully considered communally.

Balancing the college’s administrative, political, financial and social goals doesn’t have an easy solution, nor should it be easy. The fact remains, however, that communication is key, because some of the larger issues that our campus must face, like policy regarding sexual assault or racial diversity to name a few, require collaboration. This conversation must continue as we try to find the right balance between competing interests. A community with vastly differing expectations regarding major issues needs cooperation, and the lack of it should be alarming to the administration and students.

While it’s good to see the dialogue opening up with regard to policies that students are discontent with, namely the party policy, this should have been an active conversation before the changes were enacted — not just after. Additionally, policy revisals should be clearly and sufficiently justified so that students can at least understand why these changes are being made, even if they were not included in the decision-making process.

As students, we must figure out the most effective way to address unfavorable changes and advocate for positive ones. Our conversations should be grounded on shared aspirational values and how to achieve them as a community. Everyone wants a better college experience for students now and in the future. On top of that, it is important for the administration and the student body to engage in discourse on how Amherst College can play a role in the broader community. What is the college doing to not only foster these shared values within our campus, but to promote them at the local, state and national level? How can we be striving towards a campus life that reflects the types of social change the college envisions itself being a part of? These questions are all part of what drives policy, and they should be answered in an open and transparent exchange between the administration and the student body. One of the things that can be done to is to hold more town hall-style events in which members of the student body and the administration actively discuss with each other the goals and means to reach those goals together.

Antagonistic attitudes between students and the administration hinder progress. Both sides must listen and think together instead of separately to address these attitudes. Moreover, honest discussion in public forums has to serve as the blueprint for how we go about changing the world around us for the better.